I have searched high and low and can not find anything similar to my experience. I had a C6-C7 ACDF with fusion and decompression 3 weeks ago after suffering an injury that resulted in narrowing of the spinal canal and pain and numbness along my left side. Met with surgeon approximately a month after the injury and a day after seeing the neurologist for an EMG (she told me I had nerve damage in the spine and based on the EMG and MRI, I needed to meet with a spinal surgeon immediately). The surgeon said a bone spur or piece of disc had broken off as a result of the injury and the disc ruptured, pushing the bone spur into the spinal cord. He said it had to be operated on immediately or I could risk further serious injury if anything else were to happen. So we scheduled the surgery for 5 days later. I have randomly thought in the past about how I would never want to go under anesthesia as the risk (however remote) of going to sleep and never waking up quite frankly scares the living hell out of me. I essentially just pushed this thought into the back of my mind and did everything not to think about it right up until I was in the hospital for the surgery. I am not a nervous person, but I definitely was that day. But my fiance was with me right up until I went under and everything pre op went smoothly. I guess I got so loopy as they put me under that I don't really remember being scared or apprehensive as I went to sleep.
So that is the background, and here is where I am desperate for some insight/opinions.
I literally woke up from anesthesia as they wheeled me out of the operating room (I think I opened my eyes as we actually rolled through the double doors). For one brief and very short lived second, I remember feeling a huge sigh of relief upon opening my eyes that I was awake, and I couldn't wait to see my fiance who was in the waiting room (the last memory I have before going under was fumbily trying to give her a kiss after they gave me one of the anesthesia drugs). I can't even begin to explain what I felt next, but it was akin to as if my pink and ring fingers on both hands were being electrocuted and lit on fire. The middle fingers experienced similar pain but in a significantly less intensity. I could not discern any pain in my pointer fingers or my thumbs, and I am pretty sure there was none, but I suppose if there was a small amount of pain, it was likely eclipsed by the adjacent pain in the other fingers. There was also some of the same pain in my right forearm and just above my left elbow but not as intense. I generally handle pain very well and have a pretty good handle on controlling my emotions/biting my tongue as freaking out is not going to fix a problem and keeping a level head is key to getting through something, but I pretty much lost it at that point. I yelled something along the lines of "my hands, my hands, something is wrong with my hands, it burns, what the  is going on...". The doctors seemed confused and indicated that the surgery went extremely well and to give it a minute because it might go away. It wasn't something I could "give a minute", it was pushing me to the brink of insanity. Prior to that point in my life, even the most excruciating pain I had ever experienced would not be on the same planet as what I was feeling. Prior to that, I am confident that I could not have even comprehended that pain of that intensity was even possible. To make things worse, the pain was pulsating. It would briefly drop off for about a second or two and then spike to maximum intensity for 5, 10, or more seconds before dropping off for 1-2 seconds and repeating. The pulsating was something like getting stabbed with a knife repeatedly as opposed to getting stabbed once with the knife remaining. There was no escaping it or diverting my focus to try and be elsewhere, every spike brought it fully into the foreground and made it impossible to think about anything else. This cycle was not subsiding even once we got to the recovery room. The doctors said it was not typical and they were not sure exactly what was going on. I was in tears at that point and they were trying to give me drugs, but nothing was doing anything to help. Fentanyl, Lyrica, Valium, and Opiates with absolutely no results. At one point I asked if they could just sedate me, because I could not handle it any more. Obviously they were not going to do that given I had just undergone anesthesia, but that sure would have been nice to escape the pain at that point. I couldn't even feel any effect from the pain killers as it was like the intensity of the pain was sobering in a way. I am pretty sure they were working elsewhere though, because i do not recall incision or neck pain while in the recovery room. As everyone here I am sure understands, when you know how long a pain will last, you can try and mentally prepare yourself for dealing with it while it runs its course, but when you are in that kind of pain or even moderate to severe pain, and the doctors don't even know what is going on or if or when it will ever end, well that is downright scary and more or less heartbreaking.
They said I could remain overnight for observation, but when I asked if there was anything they could do for me, and they said no, I just wanted to be home where I could try and deal with the pain privately and have at least a chance of being somewhat comfortable. After a couple hours, the pain was not getting better, and we chose to go home since there was nothing more that they could do for me. We had gotten home from the hospital in the evening and I was up all night without a remote chance of being able to fall asleep. I think I was able to sleep for about 2 hours the next day mid-morning (thanks to the narcotics), but then awoke once again in unbearable pain. I would say the next 36 hours were the worst day and a half of my life. Between the pain, anxiety, and uncertainty, I couldn't even think straight. The pain and frequency of the pulses began to very slowly decrease and I was able to sleep on and off for about 2 hours at a time before being woken up by the pain in my hands. The narcotics helped somewhat with being able to fall asleep and they did help with incision pain and neck pain near the surgery location, but they did nothing for my hands. Its hard to place a rate on it, but it was improving slowly at maybe 10% decrease from day to day for the first 2 weeks (as in the 5th day was about 10% less painful than the 4th day, and the 6th day was 10% less painful than the 5th day, but I can really only assess from day to day as its hard to try and compare day 3 to day 8 for example...). The problem is, even after 3 or 4 days when the pain had reduced considerably, it was still then only reaching a level that I would call 10 on the 1-10 scale. Where it was at before that isn't appropriate to even try and put on a scale to quantify, because those numbers are not tangible. Somewhere around 2 weeks post op, the pulsing became much less frequent, but a constant pain remained, and extreme hypersensitivity to touch, movement, or cold air/water. The pain has leveled out now and does not seem to be decreasing much at all. I do thank God that it has decreased as much so far as it has, because if it had remained where it was at, I really don't know what I would have done or how I would even be able to functionally live like that. The pain is constant but is bearable now. I try not to think about whether or not it will be permanent and just try and avoid thinking about how long it will be like this. My thumbs, pointers, and middle fingers being ok helps me to do some things to get by for now (like typing this post). But trying to stick my hands in my pockets, make a fist, shake someones hand, turn a door knob, those things are all still very uncomfortable. One other thing to note is that putting my hands under really hot water or submerging them in really hot water brings a huge relief from the pain while they are in the water. The hot water obviously hurts, but its like it dulls the nerve pain and that relief is almost euphoric for a moment. Cold water is quite a different story, washing my hands with room temp or colder water hurts like a . It was windy the other day, and even just wind blowing on my hands hurt like hell.
Alright, so long post, but it would be really amazing to hear from anyone who has any clue what could be going on or from someone who experienced the same thing. I fully understand that I need to see a medical doctor to get an actual diagnosis, and I will do that when I see the surgeon for the follow up in a week. I have talked to his office several times since the surgery, and they are aware of the situation. Any information you can provide will be taken as friendly advice and would be very much appreciated.